I first got started writing FAQs in 1999 shortly after I bought a ham radio, the all-band mobile Yaesu FT100. The 'K0LEE' in my web domain is my ham radio callsign. I noticed that the Yahoo Group that was dedicated to the radio had a lot of repeat questions. I decided to organize this in to a FAQ/Knowledgebase so that the group wouldn't get the same questions asked over and over, which a common problem with forums, and it sometimes makes knowledgeable people bored enough to leave the group. It also made for a good way to organize things like files, photos, and charts that were hard to put in a forum where all information is generally text. Even in forums that do allow photos and file attachments, everything eventually gets buried and is otherwise hard to find. The FT100 FAQ, despite its age and the fact that the radio is no longer available, still gets a lot of traffic.
Later I became the System Architect for several products at HP and felt they would benefit from having a FAQ web site and user group to support them. Drawing upon my experience from the FT100, I started a Yahoo Group and began adding material to a FAQ. Something that made these FAQs unusual was that I was actually one of the products' designers. In the case of the Yaesu radio, we never had anyone with any inside information participate in the forum or FAQ.
The first HP product FAQ I created for was the HP de100c Digital Entertainment Center, a product far ahead of its time and aimed at digital music enthusiasts. In addition to solving common problems, the FAQ accumulated tips on how to modify the product. That kind of 'hacking' knowledge always needs a permanent location on the Internet. Even though the product has been out of production for 6 years, it still has a loyal following and an information source to help you figure out how to fix it if it breaks.
After the de100c, I was the Systems Architect for the HP DVD Movie Writer, a product to help people automatically convert analog videos into DVDs. I created a Yahoo Group and FAQ for it which proved to be quite popular with owners of that product.
Most recently, I was the Systems Architect for the HP mv2010/mv2020 Media Vault, a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device aimed at home users for doing automated backups, file sharing, and media streaming. It is currently my busiest FAQ/user group and appears to be destined to grow to become the largest.
There are nearly 5000 members of these Yahoo Groups. I've personally answered thousands of questions in their respective Yahoo Groups as well as thousands of individual emails sent to me directly over the years. Now that I no longer work for HP, people have asked if I'll continue to host and support these groups. Doing product support was never a part of my job at HP to begin with. I do it because I enjoy helping people and I wanted the products to be successful. I run some Google Ads on the sites to generate enough income to pay for hosting services, and so I'm not in it for the money. I feel that the help I give to a stranger may cause that person to offer help to another person and so on. I've also met a lot of interesting people as a result and that's been a nice fringe benefit.
I have a standing invitation for those who have benefited from the FAQs to link our networks on LinkedIn. It's completely optional. My LinkedIn profile can be found here.
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